The difficulty of winning these seats, paradoxically, presents an important opportunity for Democrats.
In the short run, the political battle in America is over who will hold the offices where laws get made. In the long run, the battle is over shaping the public consciousness that determines to whom the people will give power.
A candidate in an unwinnable race can focus on moving hearts and minds, at least incrementally, toward recognizing the paramount political truth of our times: The force that's taken over the Republican Party acts destructively and irresponsibly.
The immediately visible problem in our politics is that nothing is getting done. Last year's Congress accomplished less than any in memory. This year's Congress is no better. And it's clear why.
That approach didn't gain the Republicans the White House in the 2012 elections, but obstruction remains the Republicans' main political strategy. And their control of the House and the use of the filibuster in the Senate, enable them to cripple our governing process.
Helping people see that our governmental dysfunction is a deliberate choice the Republicans are making is a good starting place, building as it does on the concerns of citizens -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- over the stalemate in Congress. But that's just one piece in a very big picture that Americans need to see.
" Income and wealth inequality are wider than at any time in living memory, yet Republicans are helping to widen that gap.
" The country is still devastated by the aftereffects of a financial collapse, yet Republicans are working to prevent the restoration of the kinds of regulations that kept our financial system stable for seventy years.
" 97 % of the top scientists in the climate field agree that climate disruption may pose the greatest challenge in human history, and we're already seeing costly consequences, yet Republicans have made it party dogma that the scientists are wrong and that nothing, or little, should be done.
" Getting Americans back to work should be our top economic priority, yet Republicans block programs to add jobs while insisting on austerity policies that have thrown additional hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work.
" two wars of choice, one under false pretenses;
" officially sanctioned torture;
" more assaults on the Constitution and the rule of law than by any previous presidency (according to Bruce Fein, the conservative Reagan jurist);